Could the EU’s USB-C order force Apple to cut the cord completely?

The European Union (EU) mandate that most mobile device makers use USB-C by the fall of 2024 has sparked speculation that Apple may have all wireless in future models of its iPhone and AirPod.

While the EU Parliamentary Committee’s guidelines apply to all manufacturers of mobile electronics, the unprecedented requirement is expected to directly affect Apple, whose products – including the popular iPhone – use the company’s Lightning Connector protocol.

The order is clear: “Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable must be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacturer.” “

The move means iPhones and AirPods sold in the EU will have to switch to more ubiquitous USB-C ports and cable connectors by the fall of 2024. This command leaves Apple with a number of options, including all wireless

IPhone 8 Wireless Charging with RavPower IDG / Ken Mingis

Charging an iPhone 8 on top of a wireless charger from RavPower, capable of transmitting power up to 7.5W.

Andrew Cornwall, a senior analyst at Forrester, said the EU move left Apple with at least three options.

  • Apple may offer a USB-C charging port separate from the Lightning Charge and data port on the iPhone and iPad. This is probably the least aesthetic of the options, and Apple is therefore less likely to choose a two-way solution.
  • Apple could create a hybrid port that accepts USB-C (for charging only) or Lightning (for charging and data). While it is possible for Apple to create a hybrid port, it does not want to create a new connector.
  • Apple could drop the port together and go wireless using the Qi charging standard, which has been built into its iPhones since 2017.

“It is in Apple’s character to completely remove the charging / lightning port for wireless charging, thus avoiding EU law,” Cornwall said. “Since their wireless chargers support an open standard, they will not work on future assignments.

“Apple seems to be expecting EU legislation and is ready to go wireless charging with the Qi standard,” Cornwall said. “Data transfer will be wireless only. Like the headphone jack, the Lightning port will disappear from future iPhones. “

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, however, believes Apple is already planning for USB-C When it launches in the second half of 2023 on the iPhone 15. So for shipping an all-wireless charging phone you have to follow that situation. The iPhone 14 lineup, expected in September, is almost certain to continue using a Lightning connector, he tweeted.

EU guidelines allow manufacturers to avoid having any chargers with their devices. This is because once all the manufacturers meet the same charging standard, shipping a charger with each product will be extra. This is a feature that the European Parliament has stated in its statement.

This will undoubtedly hurt some buyers – those who do not have a charger will have to pay more, Cornwall noted.

“Bad warranty has increased the risk of warranty repair being rejected. Some people may buy bad chargers which cause fire, ”he said. “The hotel will have to carry a dongle to charge passengers until the Qi is widely implemented.”

And if Apple’s Lightning port disappears for data transfer, Apple users will lose some privacy, because it’s much harder to intercept cable traffic than anything in the air, Cornwall noted. In addition, some iPhones may become difficult to repair, and it may become impossible to reflash an iPhone, or restore it to its original firmware. And jailbreaking an all-wireless iPhone – that no longer works.

On the flip side, iPhones can be easy to waterproof without a port.

“I see EU law as mildly inconvenient for consumers,” Cornwall said. “This is lightweight for device vendors who no longer need to include a charger with every sale.”

Jack Gold, chief analyst at Jay Gold Associates, questioned whether EU guidelines would allow Apple to remove a port altogether, as the order calls for vendors to switch to USB-C. Additionally, there are still a number of challenges with wireless charging – the first is that it is not energy efficient.

“Wireless charging has a good deal – as much as 50%,” Gold said. “And the amount of power you can push through a wireless charger is limited. So, fast charging which we have all become accustomed to is very difficult to do wirelessly. That’s probably why Apple hasn’t pushed wireless charging for their phones.

So, the question is, will users accept slow charging?

“My guess is that Apple will prevent full wireless charging until some of these issues are resolved. But physics is against them and some serious progress will be made to change that. Apple users expect Apple to be the only option. Wireless charging is the only option.” Able to meet. “

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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